Dragon boat paddling originated in China more than 2,000 years ago and the boats used for racing today are long and narrow, usually with 20 paddlers seated in 10 rows of two. Dragon boats are rigged with decorative Chinese dragon heads and tails, and racing accompanied by the beating of a large drum carried aboard.
Dragon boating, originally linked to the traditional Tuen Ng Chinese festival and the fishermen of the region, has now become not just an international sport but the only sport to be celebrated as a national holiday, usually falling to a date in June.
The Royal X-Teams
The Royal X- Men were founded in 1997, so named for the founding paddlers pulled from other (very serious) paddling clubs and with the goal of building a team to have fun rather than just intense training. The team quickly found a home with the RHKYC, the Royal X-Women followed soon after and over the years the team has grown from strength to strength, still competitive on the water but never losing sight of the original aims of the team (nor a cold beer)! Now attracting upwards of 70 paddlers, drummers, steers people and social organisers to the team, a third mixed team has been launched to allow those who don’t have the time commitment to train as hard during the season, to still race in Stanley and be a part of the team and all its social aspects.
Training and Racing
Starting in late January, the team’s focus is towards the Stanley International Championships, held on the annual dragon boat festival in June, as well as racing in several other local events in preparation for competing. Despite putting in far fewer hours on the water than many local teams the club is still highly respected amongst local teams, with both the women’s and men’s teams pulling off the ultimate prize of winning the competition outright.
With an excellent coaching programme now in considerable demand amongst HK dragon boat teams, the team always welcomes new recruits of all shapes, ages, sizes and experience, and with selection made on commitment rather than pure ability, it all comes down to teamwork.
As well as training at weekends in Middle Island there is now a popular fitness and core strength training session held at Kellett Island every Wednesday (at which even sailors have been occasionally spotted amongst the rowers and paddlers…)! This continues all year round and is open to all members of the club – contact Gianni Aprea to be added to the mailing list.
Social and charity events
Team work is everything in dragon boating, and that begins on dry land!!! As well as obligatory drinks after training, the Royal X-Teams organise many social events during the season, from BBQ’s to fundraising drinks nights and culminating in the now legendary end of dragon boat season pool party. In the past five years the teams have raised over $75,000USD for Room to Read (www.roomtoread.org)
The Royal X Team is supported by: